Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Zero Gravity on Earth
Name: Nick
Status: student
Age: 17
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 


Question:
Is it true that on earth there isn't a room capable of reproducing a 0-gravity enviroment? If i'm right, it is immpossible to have one. The only method to simmulate it, is to fly really fastly towards the ground from a very high altitude? I have money on this statement, I hope that it is immpossible.


Replies:
Nick -

No only can you not have 0 gravity on the earth, there is no place in the universe with 0 gravity. following the inverse square law, you will always have a fraction of what you had before. Yes, Mars is attracting you.

Today we talk about microgravity. We can experience microgravity in earth orbit, or in fretful (for a short period of time).

I don't know if this earns you any money. Good Luck.

Larry Krengel


You're half right. Zero gravity has never been demonstrated. We know of nothing that will enable one object with mass to be near another object with mass and not experience an attraction toward it.

If you don't resist this gravitational attraction, and just free-fall toward the earth from an altitude, you can sort of simulate an environment without gravity. If you hold something in your hand and let it go, it won't drop to your feet. The reason for this is that you are already dropping just as fast as the object is. Now, in free-fall, you don't necessarily have to be moving toward the earth, just accelerating toward it. If, say, someone loads both you and an anvil in a catapult and fires you both upward, you will both move first upward, then eventually downward. Throughout the entire trajectory, you and the anvil are in free-fall, and neither you nor the anvil drops relative to the other. This is how the weightlessness-simulating "vomit comet" airplane works: it flies in a curved path upward, then downward so that its acceleration matches that due to gravity.

I don't know if this means that you lose your bet or not. It depends on exactly what you've bet on.

Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.


Free-fall rides at amusement parks "simulate" a zero-g environment. An elevator could easily be rigged to give a zero-g experience for a limited time. Of course it would have to be slowed down in a safe manner so that no one got hurt.

Dr. Bradburn



Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory